What Differentiates a Master’s Degree in Leadership from an MBA?
By John Gallo, MS, MBA – Dean of Adult and Online Programs
Geneva College currently offers two fully online graduate degrees: a Master of Science in Leadership Studies (MSLS) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA). I often get asked by prospective students, “what is the difference between an MBA and an MSLS?” I feel I am in a good position to answer that question because I actually have both degrees! Let me take a moment and explain what the primary differences are between the two.
There’s a Difference Between Management and Leadership
First, understand that there is a basic difference between the term “leadership” and “management”. Newspaper articles and books often use the terms interchangeably. But the difference between those two terms gets at the heart of the difference between the two programs.
At its most foundational level, management is about the organization and distribution of raw materials and resources in a company. This can include people (as they are the most valuable resource). In addition, it also includes other raw materials like finances, organizational processes, procedures, and operations. Consequently, MBA students at Geneva College will take classes in:
- HR (understanding people)
- finances (understanding financial resources)
- business law (understanding principles that govern an organization and the regulatory environment)
- and more
Conversely, a leadership studies degree focuses primarily on the people of the organization and the skills a leader needs to mobilize and maximize their effectiveness. Thus, leadership students will study things like motivation, teamwork, organizational and strategic planning, and more. MSLS focuses on the soft skills that leaders need to engage employees, assemble them into teams, and help them grow professionally.
In the End
Certainly, this is a bit of a simplification. It would be unfair to say that MBA graduates don’t care about being good leaders. Or that they don’t care about empowering employees. They do.
Likewise, it would be unfair to say that MSLS graduates don’t care about being good stewards of the organization’s resources. Or, moreover, that they are unconcerned with profitability of the company. They are. My point here is to show the main focus of each program using broad brushstrokes.
Whatever program you may choose to study: MBA or MSLS, you can be assured that you will receive a quality education at Geneva College. One that is rooted in a Christian faith and brings biblical principles to your discipline. In conclusion, it will make you a well rounded and spiritually grounded leader of the 21st century!
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